On the Eve of Easter at Midnight

The manager of the house we rented called this morning and warned us that there will be fireworks at midnight and not to be concerned.  She mentioned that people would gather before midnight by the church and they will parade with candles.  We stayed up and headed to the same church that Sarah and I had seen the start of the procession the night before. The five of us heard a portion of the mass from a distance.  We had arrived a bit late so we only heard maybe 10 minutes of the mass.  It was OK, because it was in Greek.  Unlike French or Italian, a knowledge of Spanish does help.  Since we had no clue as to the message, we weren’t disappointed that we arrived late.  At midnight the mass ended and the bells started ringing, roman candles were lit by a woman near us and and fireworks followed. What follows is a 15 sec video that captures the bells and noise from the fireworks.  Notice the people with candles.

According to an EU website, http://publicholidays.eu/greece/easter/

At midnight, a priest appears holding a lighted candle taper reciting the phrase “Avto to Fos”, which means “This is the light.” His candle, dubbed “the Holy candle”, is used to light several of the onlookers’ candles, which in turn then light their neighbour’s candles. This continues until the entire square is lit with flickering candle light. The lighting of the candles is said to be the most significant moment of the entire year.

The resurrection is proclaimed at exactly midnight, and is celebrated with drums, fireworks, and church bells. Fireworks light up the sky in a majestic display. The crowd offers the salutation “Christós Anésti” (Christ has risen) to each other, which is responded to with the phrase “Alithós Anésti” (He has truly risen). They then dissipate; returning to their homes to the previously laid festive tables and break their fast with the traditional soup, maghiritsa. Before entering their homes, they make the symbol of a cross in the air with the smoke of the candle above the door. Devout followers are said to light an oil candle inside the home beside their icon-candle and keep this light burning throughout the year. It is said that if you can make it home without your candle going out, you will have a good year.

As we returned to the house our neighbors returned in their two cars with their candles light.  We wish them a good year!